Welcome to another LGBT book review! All reviews touch on genre/plot, tropes (if any), quality of LGBT content, and avoid most spoilers. Catch up on my last book review of Colors by Johvan Calvo. You can find all LGBT book reviews here.
LGBT Book, Simon: Light spoilers
The LGBT Book, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, serves the foundation for the beloved gay film, Love, Simon. If you liked the movie, you’re sure to like the book! The spoilers section will reveal a few things that diverged between the two mediums. If you know the film, you know the plot. Simon is a coming-of-age young adult fiction novel about school kid, Simon, coming to terms with his sexuality as he falls in love over email.
Simon is canonically gay and in love with a boy he knows only through email (which is very relatable for my whole dating-someone-online-for-a-full-year-before-I-met-her-in-person situation). The boy Simon falls in love with is also gay. There is a random gay older brother of a random student. Apparently one of Simon’s friends, Leah, is bisexual, but this is not part of Simon’s story (but in the sequel, which I may or may not be reading in the future).
The book develops Simon’s coming-out story arc very well in a way that feels true to the experience in a home that is “safe” for coming out. The use of first-person takes readers to Simon’s internal processing, a needed device of storytelling for such intimate queer narratives in my opinion. Simon does face some homophobic-induced bullying at school, and the narrative delivers consequences when they occur. His coming out does not face any permanent harm or perpetuate harmful tropes.
There is one moment in Simon’s inner monologue where he finds lesbians as more accepted by society than gay men because they are easily sexualized (thus, accepted), without any repercussions for this thought. As this moment is a side note and not a plot point, the story does not deliver a consequence for the write-off. I swear years ago I saw Albertalli address this in tweets (or interview?) saying the book should’ve addressed it in the same way it addresses Simon’s oversight with race in a similar way and apologized for not doing so in the narrative. Can’t find those comments but I SWEAR they exist somewhere.
LGBT Book, Simon: Spoilers Ahead
It’s hard to say whether I liked the book or film better because moments from both made me feel warm and understood. As someone who went through a similar thing with falling in love over texts, the book was so intimate in a way that I’d never before experienced. It made me realize that the way I fell in love had never really been validated before by any sort of mainstream teen romance, and not just in a gay way. So the book was very rewarding in that sense because Simon’s confusion and excitement about falling in love in this non-traditional sense healed me in some ways. And in general, the book felt more heartwarming and fulfilling than the movie did. Like I was so overwhelmed with good feelings at the end of the book that I got very teary-eyed (but they did not spill over the edge, so it doesn’t count as crying).
On the other hand, there’s a particular scene from the movie that did not appear in the book. In the film, Simon and his mom have a conversation where Simon asks if his mom knew he was gay, and she replied by saying that she didn’t, but she knew he had a secret. And now it seemed like he can breathe again. That scene really hurt and healed me at the time because I felt very connected to that experience and was a little disappointed to not see that part in the book. But, like I said, both were great and overall, the book was more heartwarming!